Kim Walmsley is a 49-year old English woman from Liverpool who has been happily married to her husband Jack since 1991. She is also mom — or “mum,” as they say across the pond — to five kids. A decade ago the family moved to Australia’s Gold Coast on a four-year visa to set up their own business and live out their dreams.
And then, about a year later, he whole life came crashing down — thanks to an obscure, and frankly inexcusable mistake by an anonymous bureaucrat almost half-a-century ago.
Kim Walmsley is telling her story now, after exhausting almost every avenue to get the absurdly stupid mistake fixed, in hopes that British Prime Minister David Cameron can step in and order the clerical error corrected himself. At this point, Cameron is Kim Walmsley’s last chance.
What was this mistake that sent her idyllic life into a tailspin? When Walmsley was born, in 1965, her birth certificate was filed in the registrar’s office under “boy” instead of “girl.”
That meant that her perfectly happy marriage of 23 years is actually a “same sex marriage,” which is illegal in the U.K. and Australia. In other words, she has never been legally married at all. And in the eyes of the law, she’s a man.
“The whole thing is absolutely disgusting,” the understandably furious mother said. “I’ve lived nearly 40 years not realizing I was actually registered as a boy and then all of a sudden my whole life fell apart. It means my marriage is a complete farce. We had a big white wedding in a church and spent a fortune and it was all for nothing.”
The clerical error is even more exasperating because Kim Walmsley’s actual birth certificate lists her gender correctly, as female. All the clerks had to do was read it.
Kim appealed to Britain’s General Registry, which records births and deaths, and the apparatchiks there admitted that there that, yes, someone made a big mistake — but as bureaucrats often do, they just shrugged their shoulders and told her that what’s done is done and there’s nothing legally they can do to fix it.
Even Britain’s top religious leader, the Archbishop of Canterbury sent an official letter to Kim Walmsley last year telling her, in so many words, “tough luck.”
The family was forced to leave Australia and have been living in Liverpool, where — to make the whole episode even more insane — they’ve been subject to homophobic harassment and threats from neighborhood pinheads.
“My death certificate will say I’m a boy too,” she worries. “So when I’m dead and buried, my family down the line will think there was this huge scandal.”
The move back from Australia and the futile legal battle have so far cost the family about £150,000 — or more than $250,000.
Bill Esterson, the Member of Britain’s Parliament representing Kim Walmsley’s district, has now issued a personal appeal to Cameron, asking him to do something.
“The fact that Kim is obviously a female is unquestionable,” he wrote in a letter to the Prime Minister on behalf of Kim Walmsley. “She has five biological children, but because her birth entry states that she is male, she is having these problems which are causing great distress to Kim and her whole family.”